Democrats Go Before Party Leaders to Give Their 10-Minute Pitches

NYT FDPatrick Healy 8/28/2015

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Good Friday morning. The Iran nuclear deal has been making its way back to the Capitol during summer break, even if Congress has not, and it will be a focus of several events. But the big party is with the Democrats as they meet in Minneapolis to hear the candidates try to curry favor with the party’s leaders.

The summer meeting of the Democratic National Committee gets down to businesson Friday with speeches by four of the party’s presidential candidates – Lincoln Chafee, the former Rhode Island governor, and Hillary Rodham Clinton in the morning, Martin O’Malley, the former Maryland governor, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont in the afternoon – to hundreds of activists who are plenty familiar with their political speeches and policy views. So will the contenders say anything new or surprising?

Mr. Sanders, for one, was playing around with ideas on a yellow legal pad as he flew to Minneapolis on Thursday, according to Democrats on the plane with him. Like the other candidates, he has only about 10 minutes to speak, but advisers expect him to make a sincere pitch — even if he is not a Democrat, but an independent — as an outsider who is attracting big crowds.

“He will say if Democrats want to keep the White House,” said Michael Briggs, Mr. Sanders’s campaign spokesman, “then establishment politics won’t do it.”

“Few would deny he is generating excitement, and that’s what the party needs.”

Mr. O’Malley has been arguing that the current plan for only six debates favors Mrs. Clinton, who is leading in the polls. Several Democrats said they were curious if Mr. O’Malley would press for more debates in his speech — and whether he would do so politely or pugnaciously.

The party leaders are convening as Mrs. Clinton’s dominance in the race is shadowed by her email practices as secretary of state, and amid uncertainty about whether Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. will enter the race.

As for Mrs. Clinton, this is her crowd: Many in the audience are already planning to support her. Democrats expect her to rally the base and rip into Republicans — which won’t be all that surprising, but will sure make people there feel good.